Current Theme

picture of city from above

Research Theme for 2019-2021

Politics in the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East and North Africa have experienced serious political upheaval since the beginning of the 21st century. These events have corresponded with specific developments such as the ever-accelerating penetration of the Internet and social media from the late 1990s, followed by the attacks of 9/11 and the American military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which further destabilized both societies. Then followed the second oil price boom (2004-2014), the dramatic increases in commodity prices (fuel, wheat, steel, etc.) and the inability of governments to maintain public subsidies for basic foodstuffs and energy.  All this took place as the region continued to suffer from unaccountable governance, endemic corruption of the political elite and crony capitalism as well as the repression and brutalization of citizens and the lack of economic opportunities. This welter of factors ultimately led to an explosion of popular anger and mobilization, beginning in late 2010 and lasting until today.  Governments throughout the region have responded with more repression, and in some cases, as in Syria, with the wholesale destruction of much of the country and the displacement of half its citizens. The research focus of the Transregional Institute (TRI) during the academic years 2019-2021 will be on the developments mentioned above. TRI’s researchers will take into account the political history of the region and analyze these recent dynamics using different disciplinary approaches with the aim of providing a better understanding of these contemporary political, social and economic changes in the Middle East and North Africa.